Tony Alcazar has been making sure that the City of Whittier has been both well fed and well stocked with craft beer via The Bottle Room in Uptown. We recently traded e-mails with Chef Alcazar, and he shared insights that helped to illuminate his approach.
How did you get involved in the craft beer scene in Los Angeles?
It all started out with Maredsous 8 at Father’s Office in Santa Monica in 2001. That led me to try new beers, especially Belgian ones. But local craft hit me when I was working in Pasadena. Craftsman blew me away well over 10 years ago. My partners Brandon and Patrick both live in Pasadena and both agreed. We then decided to open an all craft beer bar. It was that simple, serve an under-served town.
What does a beer need to have to make it onto a tap list that you oversee?
It has to taste good, it has to be craft, and it has to come from a reputable brewer. Availability has a major role as well. Sometimes we seek out a beer and it is simply not available.
Is there a beer or style that you always want/need on tap?
We have 24 taps but we try to dedicate 6 of those to basic styles:
1) Belgian or Belgian style
2) Brown Ale
These rotate frequently though, one week it’s Black Market Brown, next week its Rogue Hazelnut Brown. This is as structured as our taps get. The other 18 taps are frequently rotating.
Which beer style do you wish had a bigger following?
Belgians, but only because I am partial to Belgian flavor, yeasts and a complex balance. The Bottle Room is a hop heavy town though, so we always have 5 or 6 IPAs from all over the country.
What is it like to serve a person a craft beer and see that they have been converted to it?
Its a beautiful thing. We have tons of regulars who started out asking for a Stella or Shock Top and have seen the light. We have seen these guys start to home brew, work for craft beer bars, distributors and even breweries. We are like the Jim Baker of beer. LOL
Where do you see the Los Angeles scene in five years?
Blown Up!! All over the place. Beer is the working class beverage and it will never go out of style. In the next 5 years I see more breweries, brewpubs, beer bars and more importantly, more craft beer at regular restaurants, grocery stores, liquor marts and sports stadiums. Its already started, but we’re young. Give Los Angeles a few years, we will be a serious contender in the beer world.
Is there a brewery or beer that you wish you could get here but can’t?
Don’t get me started. But yes, I wish a bunch of breweries would be available to us. Westvleteren for one. Founders, Southern Tier, Bells, you know the usual East Coast bad asses. (I was in Belgium and had a Southern Tier Creme Brulee Stout that is impossible to get in California).
Also, some beers that are already available that are so limited, Cantillon, Cascade, and hell, we can always use some more Russian River.